i, j
dwell time of Bus i at Stop j, i, j;
H
i, j
departure headway between Bus i 1 and Bus i at Stop j,
i 1, 2, j;
W
i, jk
number of passengers waiting for Bus i and traveling from
Stop j to Stop k, i 0, 1, 2; 1 j < k N;
L
i, jk
number of passengers traveling from Stop j to Stop k
skipped by Bus i, i 0, 1, 2; 1 j < k N;
L
i, j
number of passengers at Stop j skipped by Bus i, i 0, 1,
2; j 1, . . . , N 1 (note: );
U
i, j
number of passengers boarding Bus i at Stop j, i 0, 1, 2,
j 1, . . . , N 1;
L L
i j i jk
k j
N
, ,
1
Stop 1
(Terminal)
Bus 0
Bus 1 Bus 2
Stop N
Stop 2
GPS
Dispatch
Center
FIGURE 1 Route model. (GPS Global Positioning System.)
V
i, j
number of passengers alighting Bus i at Stop j, i 0, 1, 2,
j 2, . . . , N;
b average boarding time per passenger, a constant;
a average alighting time per passenger, a constant;
average bus acceleration plus deceleration time, a con
stant;
j, k
average passenger arrival rate at stop j whose destination
is Stop k, 1 j < k N;
j
average passenger arrival rate at stop j (note:
c
1
unit time value associated with passenger waiting time
($/h);
c
2
unit time value associated with passenger invehicle time
($/h);
c
3
unit time value associated with vehicle operation time
($/h); and
y
i, j
decision variables to indicate stop status of Bus i at Stop
j. y
i, j
takes two values: y
i, j
1 if Bus i makes Stop j; y
i, j
0, otherwise.
System State Equations
Transit vehicles operating on a given route follow an almost identi
cal process: they arrive at a stop, dwell at the stop for passengers
boarding and alighting, and then depart for the next stop. This
process starts at Stop 1 and ends at Stop N. The following equations
can be obtained for the relationships between the states of the three
vehicles at individual stops:
Equation 1 indicates that the arrival time of vehicle i at stop j (A
i, j
)
is equal to its departure time at stop j 1 (D
i, j1
) plus the running time
between the two stops plus time lost in acceleration and deceleration.
Equation 2 relates departure time to arrival time and dwell time. Equa
tion 3 states that the departure headway of Bus i at a stop is the dif
ference in departure times between itself and the preceding Bus i 1
at the stop, assuming passing is not allowed or at least will not occur
for the three buses under consideration. Equation 4 estimates the bus
dwell time at each stop based on the number of passengers who will
board and alight at the stop, denoted by U
i, j
and V
i, j
, respectively.
It should be noted that the preceding dynamic equations assume
that vehicles will not pass each other over the planning horizon. This
assumption has been used in all existing models and its implication
requires future research. However, it should be pointed out that the
issue of passing and its consequence are less a problem in this model
than in some existing models. This is because this model is expected
to be implemented in a rollinghorizon optimization framework in
which optimal decisions are applied only to those buses that need a
decision at the time the optimization process is invoked. If the opti
mal stopskipping decision does lead to passing, it should be reected
in the next round of optimization.
Two initial conditions need to be provided with Equations 1 to 4:
the departure times of Bus 0 at all stops, D
0, j
, for j 1, . . . , N, and
i j i j i j
b U a V i j N
, , ,
, , , . . . , ( ) + 1 2 2 4
H D D i j N
i j i j i j , , ,
, , , . . . , ( )
1
1 2 2 3
D A i j N
i j i j i j , , ,
, , , . . . , ( ) + 1 2 1 2
A D r y y i j N
i j i j j i j i j , , , ,
, , , . . . , ( ) + + +
1 1
2 2
1 2 2 1
j j k
k
N
,
);
1
50 Paper No. 033697 Transportation Research Record 1857
the departure times of all buses at Stop 1, D
i,1
for i 0, 1, and 2. The
former is either known (when Bus 0 has already passed the stop at
the time of dispatching Bus 1) or can be predicted by the control cen
ter based on Bus 0s current location and traffic conditions. In this
study, a simple model was used to predict the estimated time of
arrival based on current vehicle location (which could be obtained
with automatic vehicle location technology), average travel speed,
and average passenger arrival rates. It is also assumed that buses
departure times at the terminal follow scheduled dispatch headway
and their earliest available times at the terminal (after nishing their
previous trips and having a minimum amount of layover time).
The number of passengers boarding and alighting a bus can be
estimated with the following recursive equations:
Equation 5 indicates that the expected number of passengers who
will board Bus i at Stop j (assuming Bus i stops at Stop j) depends on
the number of passengers traveling between Stops j and k (k > j) and
whether the bus will stop at Stop k. Similarly, Equation 6 indicates
that the expected number of alighting passengers for Bus i at Stop j
(assuming Bus i stops at Stop j) depends on the number of passengers
traveling between Stops k and j (k < j) and whether the bus will make
Stop k. The number of passengers waiting for Bus i at Stop j whose
destination is Stop k depends on the number of passengers skipped by
Bus i 1 at Stop j, L
i1, jk
, and the average number of passengers who
arrive at Stop j after Bus i 1 leaves Stop j. Equation 8 species that
the number of passengers destined for Stop k who are stranded by Bus
i 1 at Stop j, L
i1, jk
, will be 0 if Bus i 1 stops at Stops j and k but
otherwise will equal the number of passengers waiting for Bus i 1
at Stop j who have Stop k as their destination.
Application of Equations 7 and 8 requires initial conditions for the
number of passengers skipped by Bus 0 at Stop jthat is, L
0, jk
.
Because Bus 0 is not allowed to skip any stops and because capacity
is assumed not to be a restrictive factor, L
0, jk
0 for j, k 1, . . . , N.
Furthermore, it is assumed that there will be no passengers boarding
at Stop N and alighting at Stop 1that is, U
i, N
0 and V
i, 1
0.
Optimization Model
Transit operations control problems can be formulated in many dif
ferent ways, depending on the choice of performance criteria and
operating constraints considered. The most commonly used objec
tive function aims to minimize the total passenger waiting time plus
a discounted amount of the delay to onboard passengers. Because
one of the benets that are expected from the skipping control pro
posed in this study is a reduction in bus trip time, bus trip time is
included in the objective function. In particular, this model is for
mulated to minimize the equivalent total cost of passenger waiting
time and passenger invehicle time as well as vehicle travel time
subject to the previously formulated system state equations, recur
sive relationships, initial conditions, and variable restrictions. Stated
mathematically this yields the following model:
L W W y y i j N
i jk i jk i jk i k i j , , , , ,
, , , . , ( ) 1 2 1 8 . .
W L H i j N
i jk i jk j k i j , , , ,
, , , . . . , ( ) +
1
1 2 1 7
V y W y i j N
i j i j i kj i k
k
j
, , , ,
, , , . . . , ( )
1
1
1 2 2 6
U y W y i j N
i j i j i jk i k
k j I
N
, , , ,
, , , . . . , ( )
+
1 2 1 1 5
subject to Equations 1 to 8.
The rst term of the objective function includes two components.
The rst component, (U
i, j
L
i1
, j)H
i, j
/2, computes the total waiting
time of the passengers who arrive after the departure (or passing) of
Bus i 1 at Stop j, assuming random arrival with an average pas
senger waiting time equal to half the headway. The second compo
nent represents the total waiting time of those passengers who have
been stranded by Bus i 1 (L
i1
, j) and have to wait for an average
amount of time equal to (H
i1,
j/2 + H
i, j
).
The second term in the objective function calculates the total in
vehicle time of passengers summed over all OD pairs. The nal term
computes the total bus trip time. Because time values associated with
passengers and transit vehicles are not of equal importance, these
terms are converted to common units of cost in dollars with the
weighting factors c1, c2, and c3 for passenger waiting time, in
vehicle time, and bus trip time, respectively. Constraint 10 speci
fies that stops 1 and N are not to be skipped by Bus 1 or 2, and
Constraint 11 imposes a further nostopskipping policy on Bus 2.
Solution Method
The problem formulated in the previous section is a nonlinear 0, 1
programming problem, which can be solved with nonlinear opti
mization techniques. In this study, because it is necessary only to
decide the stopskipping pattern of one bus, the problem scale is rel
atively small. As a result, it was decided to use an exhaustive search
method for optimally solving the problem. The algorithm complex
ity is exponentialthat is, on the order of 2
N2
, where N 2 is the
number of intermediate stops on the route. Experiments on a set of
realistic cases suggested that this complexity was acceptable for the
simulation analysis. Cases with oneway 14 stops (see Sensitivity
Analysis section) were simulated on a 1.5GHz personal computer
and it was found that the simulation speed was three to ve times
faster than realtime speed. This algorithm was integrated into a sim
ulation model for evaluating the effectiveness of the proposed
model, as detailed in the following section.
SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS
The stopskipping optimization model discussed in the previous sec
tion was established on the basis of a number of assumptions such as
deterministic travel time and constant headway. From a theoretical
point of view, systems with this stopskipping control strategy should
always outperform those without this control. However, it is unclear
what magnitude of benets could be expected from application of this
y j N
j 1
0 1 2 1 12
,
, , . , ( ) { . .
y j N
j 2
1 2 1 11
,
, , . , ( ) . .
y y i
i i N , ,
, , ( )
1
1 1 2 10
min
, ,
,
,
,
,
, , ,
Z c U L
H
L
H
H
c U r y
i j i j
i j
i j
i j
i j j
N
i
i jk f i f i f
f j
k
j
N
j
( )
+

.
`
,
+

.
`
,
]
]
]
+ + + ( ) [ ]
'
'
+ +
1 1
1
1
1 1
2
2
1 1
2 2
+ + + ( ) [ ]
1
1
1
2
3
2 1
2
9
N
i
j i f i j
j
N
i
c r y
, ,
( )
Fu et al. Paper No. 03 3697 51
strategy and under what conditions this strategy is most benecial.
The objective of this section is to shed some light on these two issues
through a sensitivity analysis with results from a simulation model.
The simulation model used is called SimTransit, which was
developed specically for modeling bus operations under a variety
of operating conditions and dispatch controls (17, 18). The model
includes three main components: a dispatch module, a traffic simu
lator, and a geographic information systemsbased animator. The
dispatch module is a representation of a transit dispatch center, inte
grating functions such as service monitoring, state prediction, and
dispatching. The module was modied in this study to include the
skipping optimization model, which determines the optimal skip
ping pattern based on the estimated times of arrival of individual
buses under consideration and the expected passenger demand.
The sensitivity analysis was performed on a reallife bus route
(Route 7D) operated by Grand River Transit (GRT), Regional Munic
ipality of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Route 7D is located in the twin
cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, which have a combined population
of 293,800 within an area of 203 km
2
. Route 7D includes 28 major
stops, starting from the Transportation Centre (TC) located in down
town Kitchener, via the University of Waterloo (a major OD), and
back to the TC terminal, as indicated in Figure 2. The original head
way is 7.5 min. The afternoon peak period for this route was used (the
base demand prole for this route is presented in Figure 3). These data
were partially provided by GRT and partially collected by University
of Waterloo students around May 2001. Average passenger board
ing and alighting times were assumed to be 4 and 2 s per passenger,
respectively. A total of 15 buses were used and each bus was dis
patched from the TC terminal at a headway of 5 min. A uniform devi
ation of t90 s from the scheduled headway was introduced to model
the inherent variation in dispatching headway. To model bus travel
time variation, a normal distribution with a coefficient of variation
(COV) of 0.20 was assumed for all links along the route. The assumed
travel time COV (0.20) represents the typical variation observed in
the eld. Two stops were selected as the control points: the TC ter
minal (Stop 1) and the University of Waterloo station (Stop 14). Val
ues of $20/h, $10/h, and $50/h were used for the objective function
weighting factors c1, c2, and c3, respectively.
Each simulation run generates statistics on the following four mea
sures of effectiveness: (a) passenger waiting time, (b) passenger in
vehicle time, (c) bus travel time, and (d) total weighted cost. These
measures of effectiveness are used in the following sensitivity analy
sis on three model parameters: passenger demand, headway, and
travel time. For each parameter setting, bus operations with and with
out skipping controls were simulated and relative reductions in these
four performance measures were used for comparison. In the simu
lation, the rst hour was treated as a warmup period for the total
6h simulation run.
Sensitivity to Passenger Demand
To determine how the effectiveness of the proposed control strategy
depends on the level of passenger demand or how the proposed strat
egy would perform during different times of day, cases with four
levels of OD demand, including base demand, 1.5 base demand,
1.8 base demand, and 2.0 base demand, were simulated. The
simulation results are presented in Figure 4. As expected, the total
weighted cost, which was to be minimized explicitly in the under
lying optimization process, improved under all demand scenarios.
The magnitude of the improvement, however, depended on the level
of passenger demand. At low passenger demand (base case), the total
52 Paper No. 033697 Transportation Research Record 1857
As passenger demand increases, the reduction in passenger wait
ing time, invehicle time, and bus trip time also increases. This trend
continues until the demand reaches a certain level, beyond which
both passenger waiting time and invehicle time start to decrease,
compared with bus travel time. As a result, there is an optimal level
of demand at which the total benet or reduction in total weighted cost
is maximized. This peaking phenomenon can also be attributed to
the two conflicting effects of the stopskipping strategy discussed
previously.
Sensitivity to Bus Travel Time Variation
Variation in bus travel time is another factor that causes buses to
deviate from their scheduled headways. This variation can cause
buses to bunch and to run behind schedule. The degree of variation
in travel time therefore should have some impact on the effectiveness
of the proposed stopskipping control strategy, which was intended
to prevent bunching and reduce lateness. Intuitively, the higher
the travel time variability, the higher the bus headway variability,
and thus the more opportunities there are for applying stopskipping
controls. However, higher travel time variation also means larger
errors in the estimated times of arrival used as input to the optimiza
tion model. This could result in suboptimal scheduling solutions.
This intuitive observation is supported by the simulation results pre
sented in Figure 5, where the curves represent the relationship
Transportation
Center
University of
Waterloo
0
50
100
150
200
250
P
a
s
s
e
n
g
e
r
D
e
m
a
n
d
(
p
e
r
s
o
n
/
h
o
u
r
)
Boarding
Alighting
Transportation
Center
(Origin)
University of
Waterloo
(Midstop)
Transportation
Center
(Terminus)
FIGURE 2 Simulation model interface with an example route.
FIGURE 3 Passenger demand profile.
combined benet was relatively small (<1%). In fact, the implemen
tation of skipping control had the negative effect of increasing pas
senger waiting time. This is because of the two opposing effects the
stopskipping controls have on passengers. On the one hand, stop
skipping will increase the waiting time of those passengers whose
OD stops are skipped. On the other hand, allowing buses to skip
some stops can prevent or mitigate bus bunching and thus reduce pas
senger waiting time. At a low level of passenger demand, bus bunch
ing is less likely to develop, and therefore the effect of increasing
passenger waiting time is more likely to be dominant.
between the four measures of effectiveness and the variability of link
travel time. The highdemand scenario of 1.8 base demand was
used in this analysis and the variability of link travel time was dened
by the COV or the ratio of standard deviation to mean.
For the case simulated, the stopskipping control is most effective
when the coefficient of variation of travel time is close to a critical
value of 0.20. When the travel time variability is smaller than the crit
ical value, the control strategy is still benecial but with reduced ben
ets. The benets decrease quickly when the variability goes beyond
the critical value, suggesting that cautions must be taken when apply
ing the control model to highly varied traffic conditions, as it could
have no effect at all or, even worse, be countereffective.
Sensitivity to Headway
When a stop is skipped, the passengers who are waiting at the stop
must wait for the next bus and consequently incur the additional
waiting time of one headway. Intuitively, the smaller the operating
headway is, the smaller the effect skipping controls will have on
these passengers. To gauge the magnitude of this effect, the 1.8
base demand scenario was simulated with bus operating headway
Fu et al. Paper No. 03 3697 53
varied at ve levelsnamely, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 min. The demand
corresponding to the 5min headway was set at 1.8 base demand,
which was then used as a base case to determine the level of demand
for other headways using the scaling factor 5/h, where h is the head
way under consideration. For example, for the case with a headway
of 10 min, a scaling factor of 0.5 ( 5/10) was used to calculate the
demand. The logic behind this is that headways for transit routes in
highdemand corridors usually are determined on the basis of pas
senger demand. The higher the travel demand is, the lower the
headway usually will be. The simulation results for this part of the
study are presented in Figure 6.
As expected, the benets of the stopskipping control decrease
monotonically as the operating headway increases. This pattern sug
gests that the proposed control is more appropriate for routes with a
short headway than for those with a long headway. The total benets
approached 0 when the bus headway was increased to 10 min or more.
Combined Control
Past studies have suggested that stopskipping control may be applied
as a complement to another more popular bus control strategy
2%
0%
2%
4%
6%
8%
10%
1 1.5 1.8 2
Passenger Demand (x Base Demand)
R
e
d
u
c
t
i
o
n
Passenger Waiting Time
Passenger InVehicle Time
Bus Travel Time
Weighted Total
10%
8%
6%
4%
2%
0%
2%
4%
6%
8%
10%
 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40
Link Speed Deviation
R
e
d
u
c
t
i
o
n
Passenger Waiting Time
Passenger InVehicle Time
Bus Travel Time
Weighted Total
FIGURE 4 Control effectiveness versus passenger demand.
FIGURE 5 Control effectiveness versus link speed variations.
namely, holding control (8, 14). The objective of holding control is to
purposely delay those buses that are ahead of their planned schedule
or too close to preceding buses. Conversely, stopskipping control is
used to speed up those buses that are late or too far from the preced
ing buses. To study this effect, a simulation was run that combined
holding and skipping control strategies and compared the results with
those in which only holding or skipping strategies were applied. The
results are presented in Table 1. It can be observed that the holding
plus skipping control has indeed improved the system performance
compared with the skipping or holding control applied in isolation.
This suggests that the negative effect on bus travel time caused by
the holding control has been compensated by incorporating the
stopskipping strategy.
CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
In this paper, a new bus operations control strategy has been pro
posed in which stop skipping is applied to every other bus dispatched
from the terminal. The novelty of this control strategy is that a min
imum service frequency can be ensured at all stops while both pas
sengers and transit agencies can still enjoy the benet of reduced
travel time and operating costs. The underlying control problem was
formulated as a nonlinear 0, 1 programming problem and solved
through an exhaustive search process. A simulation model was used
in a sensitivity study to investigate the impacts of changes in various
operating conditions such as demand, travel time, and headway on
the effectiveness of the control strategy. The analysis has provided
the following insights:
54 Paper No. 033697 Transportation Research Record 1857
1. Stopskipping control is an effective strategy to improve transit
service quality and operating efficiency. Passenger invehicle time,
waiting time, and operation vehicle trip time can be reduced in a wide
range of operating conditions.
2. Stopskipping controls are most effective on those bus routes
with high passenger demand and short headway.
3. Stopskipping controls should be used only on those routes
with an appropriate range of travel time variation. Routes with travel
time variation that is too low or too high may not benet from this
strategy.
4. A stopskipping strategy can be applied in combination with
other controls such as a holding control for further improvement in
system performance.
The work presented in this paper is by no means complete and fur
ther research is needed in the following directions. First, faster algo
rithms need to be developed to replace the currently implemented
enumeration method if largesized problems are to be solved in real
time. Second, more accurate prediction models should be developed
to truly take advantage of realtime information on bus location, travel
time, and passenger counts. Lastly, integration with other controls
such as realtime deadheading and short turning should be explored
to maximize the potential of the proposed strategy.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineer
ing Research Council of Canada.
0%
1%
2%
3%
4%
5%
6%
7%
8%
9%
10%
3 min 5 min 7 min 10 min 15 min
Headway
R
e
d
u
c
t
i
o
n
Passenger Waiting Time
Passenger InVehicle Time
Bus Travel Time
Weighted Total
Control
Strategy
Reduction in
Average InVehicle
Time
Reduction in
Average Waiting
Time
Reduction in
Average Bus
Trip Time
Reduction in
Weighted
Total
Skipping 2.84% 8.91% 4.66% 5.62%
Holding 6.46% 30.72% 0.67% 16.17%
Holding +
Skipping
8.63% 32.56% 0.58% 18.11%
FIGURE 6 Control effectiveness versus headway.
TABLE 1 Effects of Holding and StopSkipping Controls
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Publication of this paper sponsored by Committee on Transportation Network
Modeling.
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